White Rock Players Club joins the B.C. theatre community in mourning the loss of Ken Morton.
The veteran director and actor and former Players Club president died last week after a lengthy struggle with diabetes, which had led to the amputation of a leg two years ago.
Morton, who is survived by his wife Lorna and family members in Terrace, joined White Rock Players Club when he and Lorna moved to the city, following his retirement, in 1992.
Morton was born and raised in the Liverpool area, where he was a schoolboy during the Blitz. His first experiences with theatre came while he was with the British forces as an educational officer in German and Austria following World War Two and he became very involved with community theatre groups there and in later postings to Indonesia.
He and Lorna emigrated to Canada in 1969 and settled in Terrace, becoming mainstays of the Terrace Little Theatre, where he directed 32 plays, culminating in a hugely successful production of the Alan Ayckbourn farce Living Together, which won him Theatre B.C. honours as best director in B.C. in 1992.
A lifelong community theatre enthusiast and supporter of Theatre BC, he was known for a wide-ranging knowledge of plays and theatre traditions, which he applied to thoughtful direction of comedies, dramas, mysteries and thrillers alike.
He was also valued as calming influence, who helped guide the club through some difficult periods of warring factions and the closure of the White Rock Playhouse by the city in the mid-1990s, when it did not meet building code standards.
“Ken knew so much about theatre – his passing is a real loss for us,”‘ said Fred Partridge, a fellow past president of the club.
“He knew just about every play that we ever wanted to talk about doing. And at the board level, you could count on him to defuse things – he could restore balance and give people a chance to cool off.”
After appearances as an actor in such shows as the Night of January 16th and Sinbad in 1993, he made his directorial debut for the club with I’ll Be Back Before Midnight in 1994, the first of 15 shows he helmed, often with Lorna as an actor or assistant director.
While he was known for directing comedies such as You Say Tomatoes and Lettice & Lovage, and mystery thrillers such as Fatal Attraction, A Talent For Murder, Wait Until Dark, Murder By The Book and Murder Takes The Stage, Morton was also known to venture into more sophisticated fare such as Joe Orton’s Loot, Ronald Harwood’s The Dresser and J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls.
A memorial at the theatre is planned by the family for March 3, with more details to be released shortly.